I arrive at the Black Cat soon after the doors open. I’m here to see the opener, Frank Fairfield, rather than the headliner (Horse Feathers). In the corner of the bar, a man with a thick mustache and a wavy mop of hair stands behind a pool table, sinking balls by himself. It’s Frank, and it’s too good an opportunity to pass up. I order a beer and walk over.
Me: Hi, Frank. Can I buy you a drink?
FRANK FAIRFIELD (softly): I’m not much of a drinker.
Me: Alright. Do you want to play a game?
FRANK: Sure, I’ll play. What’s your name?
(We shake hands.)
FRANK: Do we know each other?
Me: No, but I saw you perform in Golden Gate Park at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass last year.
FRANK: Well that’s on the other side of the country!
Me: I know, I’m a big fan!
(Frank stops, appearing somewhat touched.)
FRANK: Well, what do you want to play?
Me: How about 8 ball?
FRANK: Alright, what kind?
Me: Is there more than one kind? I don’t know.
(Frank mumbles something and racks the balls.)
FRANK: Would you like to do the honors?
Me: Sure, thank you.
(I break, but sink nothing. Emily walks up.)
Me: Frank, this is my friend, Emily. She’s a fiddler, too.
EMILY: Yeah, I played at their wedding.
Frank gets excited and they talk while we play. We’re evenly matched, neither of us particularly good. Frank is methodical in measuring his shots, and takes small leaps in response to near misses. The stage manager comes out and tells him that he’s starting in a few minutes. I offer to call the game a draw, but he insists we finish. I’m winning, but scratch on the 8 ball. We shake hands. He collects his long, rough coat, walks to the stage and gets ready to perform.
Frank Fairfield at the Black Cat
November 15, 2012
Frank Fairfield – Going Down the River #2
Frank Fairfield – Those Brown Eyes
Frank Fairfield – Some Day You’ll Be Free
Frank Fairfield – The Dying Cowboy
Frank Fairfield – Rye Whiskey/Texas Farewell